March 11, 2023 2023, Carousel, diario/journal


Magnani e Pasolini

Venice, 1962

We are the sum of our experiences; uniquely defined by our memories.

We spend a lifetime gathering a collection of treasured object and symbols.
Each of them holding a tiny fragment of our identity.

I’ve been wanting to do a set of posts that present the various images in my head – fragments that belong to another time, another country, another sensibility.

These image-slivers have been with me all my life, and now I realize they’re memories.

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. L.P. Hartley, “The Go-Between“.


Anna Magnani
The above image represents all the pictures in my head of Italian immigrants at weddings. Real people dancing; dancing before the reality of Lee Harvey Oswald, before the horrors of Vietnam, before the unraveling of Catholicism, and before the assimilation into a Canadian dullness.
But Magnani is real; she’s luminous; her mouth hangs with laughter; her simple black dress caresses her body. There’s fun, there’s heat.
Living in Sault Ste Marie, in a Calabrese community, in the 60s, I had relatives like Magnani.

Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini, with his back to the camera, heralds what’s coming; he’s the reality of Last Tango; he’s the horror of AIDS; he’s the unraveling of the lies of the 1950s; and he’s the assimilation of blacks, women and gays.
But Pasolini is hidden; his head is down; he’s contorted. His vented jacket covers his ass; his pointy shoes squeeze his feet. There’s disquiet; there’s fear.
Living in New York in the heady, lewd 70s, I had friends like Pasolini.


Both the above image and the featured image of Magnani are from online.
The quote is from an episode of Vienna Blood.


March 29, 2023 2023, Carousel, diario/journal


Bruna, Mario, Anita

June 24, 1968

Gonna buy me a long white robe
I’m gonna find me a smilin’ angel

This second image fragment is also from that long-ago. We’re at the Sault Ste Marie airport and I’m leaving for Toronto. My final destination is the Christian Brothers Novitiate in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Talk about a leap into the unknown.
My friends drove me to the airport; Bruna was ‘going with Rainer’; Anita was dating Ron. I’m holding my Slazenger tennis racket with its wooden press – OMG. In a weird twist of fate, it became my ticket into the upper echelon of the Brothers – OMG squared.

The way I feel is like a robinWhose babes have flown to come no moreLike a tall oak tree alone and cryin’When the birds have flown and the nest is bare


A Slazenger
Living in Northern Ontario, in that long-ago, life was about assimilation into the ‘English’ culture. The Slazenger racket was a symbol of having left behind my immigrant roots. Brandishing the talisman let slip from memory my very Italian name. And the long-ā, Canadian pronunciation, of my very Italian name, disguised its foreign origins.
We lived in a town with a French name, but looked down on our French-Canadian neighbors; we bought Slazenger equipment – it was the racket of Wimbledon; we had names like Bruna, Mario, Anita, but we weren’t Italian; I was going to a monastery, but we’re posed like a vacation picture.

In Sault Ste Marie, in the 1960s there were tennis courts at every municipal playground. My friends and I, played tennis as often as possible. Taking my racket with me, was the equivalent of today’s kid taking a basketball with him to college.
However, walking onto the ocean-front campus of the Christian Brothers Novitiate with a tennis racket sent a message; a message I was oblivious of. But that summer, I played tennis with all the mucky-mucks vacationing in the mansion and cottages on the property; I even played tennis with a New York Mafia don.

In May of 57, my family left Calabria for Canada. In June of 68, I left Sault Ste Marie for Rhode Island – never to live in Canada again.

The featured image for this post is the 1966 cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s first solo album. Imagine, I took it with me to a monastery. Also, the two quotes – Gonna buy me and The way I feel – are from songs on that album.


April 18, 2023 2023, Carousel, diario/journal


le viole

by a stream
in aprigliano
in 1954

the smell of violets hidden in the green
pour’d back into my empty soul
and frame the times when I remember
to have been joyful and free of blame

This third entry is about two remembrances that are forever intertwined. Two memories – my father leaving for southern France, and me sitting by a trickling stream surrounded by violets – are fused together. In reality the two events were probably not related, but memory and synapses don’t care about timestamps or separateness.

Two Stories



Left image (L to R): Antonio – Totonnu – my father’s first cousin and best friend, and my dad.
Right image (L to R): all men from Aprigliano who went to south-western France for work.
(far left, my dad. in the middle Totonnu.)

South-western France
– In the picture on the left – the doll in front of my dad, was a gift for my mother.  The doll came with us to Canada; but my mother put it on top of a lamp in their bedroom on Henrietta Street in Sault Ste Marie and it caught on fire and burned.
– The other souvenir that came with us to Canada was a small wall-statue of Our Lady of Lourdes; it glowed in the dark. (My dad and his friends went to Lourdes; it wasn’t far from where they were working.)

– In the picture on the right – the man in the middle is my cousin Totonnu; the man to his left immigrated to Canada and traveled with us from Naples to Halifax. I don’t know his name, and I have no idea where he ended up in Canada.


Left image – Our family house in Aprigliano. Our was the last house before the fields. The alleyway led to town.
Middle image – Me on the steps going up to my dad’s vineyard. The path is also how I would get to the small stream.
Right image – the lower tier of the vineyard that is now abandoned.

Trickling Stream
– Beside our house in Aprigliano were a series of plots that families rented for vineyards and vegetable gardens. Among these plots, my dad worked a small, two-tier vineyard and I went with him whenever he worked the vines.
– Because our house was next to the fields, my friends and I spent hours exploring and playing in and around the gardens, the chestnut trees, the oak trees, the vineyards. If we wanted away from the adults, we followed the path. A small stream and its bog hid further down the dirt path shown in the middle image.

– I remember retreating to the stream the day my dad was leaving for France. A safe place with its violets, trickling waters, its wet moss – all soothed a sad seven-year-old. But, I stayed too long; by the time I got back, my dad had left.